- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
Saturday, April 8, 2017 ….. 11:03 A.M.
A ruling in my lawsuit against the Caddo Parish Commission was issued yesterday by the Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport.
Regardless that parts of the ruling favor the Commission / Commissioners and some favor arguments by Whitney Pesnell and me, the Court in fact decided that only Commissioners can make themselves return money Commissioners have stolen.
Yes … you read correctly.
My lawsuit partner and attorney, Whitney Pesnell, filed the action on behalf of Caddo Parish taxpayers two years and three weeks ago. Mr. Pesnell and I have worked without pay, on behalf of the community, from the start.
The suit seeks the return to taxpayers of the huge sums of our money illegally taken by Commissioners and some top staffers as far back as 1993.
At the core of the self-pay is almost $300,000 in illegal and unconstitutional retirement benefits Commissioners voted themselves in March 2000 (“CPERS”), and many hundreds of thousands more in salary pay expressly prohibited by the Caddo Parish Home Rule Charter.
Never denying the theft, and regardless of recognition of these facts by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Commissioners have proclaimed the body’s corrupt nature by hiring outside attorneys to preserve their now thoroughly exposed heist.
Those attorneys have thus far pocketed over $175,000 in fees charged to taxpayers.
The refusal of the Commission and/or Commissioners to return the stolen money is THE issue.
Caddo District Court Judge Ramone Lafitte initially ruled in favor of the Commission and individual Commissioners. He opined that neither I nor any other taxpayer has a legal right to in any way make Commissioners give back what they illegally paid themselves.
On that crucial issue, here is what this three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court sees, believes and adjudges to be fair and right:
“Nowhere in (Caddo Parish Home Rule Charter) Section 6-06 (A) does it provide for the right of a private citizen to step into the shoes of the Parish and recover illegal payments.”
As troubling as that legal thinking is, the next sentence makes the reality of living here much more clear and haunting:
“In addition, Stonecipher has not shown that the Parish has granted him authority to file suit on its (the Commission’s) behalf.”
The many, and very strong, precedent Louisiana judicial decisions contrary to that assertion were ignored by the Court.
As I personally witnessed, one of these three judges openly challenged Commission attorney Tom Arceneaux in required oral arguments three months ago.
As to the Commission’s position that only it could legally force itself to return our stolen money, that judge – with pronounced incredulity in his voice – asked Arceneaux if he was, in fact, even stating something so preposterous. Arceneaux wallowed in the hooey by saying …
“There is no reason to believe they (Commissioners) wouldn’t do the right thing.”
It is a fact long in evidence that Caddo Commissioners will never – ever – do the right thing and return the stolen money. I went public with these facts in January 2015, and they have never so much as publicly discussed the subject.
KSLA investigative reporter Victoria Shirley exclusively covered the Court’s oral arguments. Her published report, below, includes this related statement by Arceneaux:
“He (Stonecipher) doesn’t have the right to collect what’s owed the parish. The parish is the one with the right to collect that debt,” said Arceneaux.
Since yesterday’s ruling was unanimous, the cited 2nd Circuit Court judge seemingly reversed his thinking since January.
All else aside, I believe it is most important for Caddo residents and taxpayers to understand any and all such facts spotlighting the corruption which owns the Caddo Commission.
The 2nd Circuit Court ruling can be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Here is the whole of the Court’s ruling: http://www.la2nd.org/archives/docs/2bb397.pdf
© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED